Shine (Gwen Stefani song)
|Promotional single by Gwen Stefani featuring Pharrell Williams|
|Released||January 13, 2015|
"Shine" is a song recorded by American singer Gwen Stefani and featuring vocals by American singer Pharrell Williams. Originally intended for the band No Doubt, it was written and produced by Williams, with additional songwriting from Stefani, as the theme song for the 2014 animated film Paddington. "Shine" is a pop song that incorporates elements of reggae pop and ska, and features lyrics that revolve around the lead character Paddington Bear's journey to London and his identity crisis. Stefani initially disagreed with Williams' choice to use literal references to Paddington, like "bear" and "station", in the lyrics. She later praised the lyrics after watching the film with her children and seeing the complete animation for the Paddington Bear character. She reported that her involvement with the recording was inspired by her then husband Gavin Rossdale and her children's connection to England.
The track was released on January 13, 2015, through a lyric video on The Weinstein Company's YouTube channel, in addition to a promotional CD. The song was also promoted in the American trailer for the film. While a low-quality version leaked on December 31, 2014, a full version of the record remains unreleased digitally. It was omitted from the film's soundtrack, and was not included on Stefani's third studio album This Is What the Truth Feels Like (2016). The lyric video is included on the DVD and Blu-ray releases of the film. Critical response to "Shine" was mixed. Some critics praised Stefani and Williams' chemistry as a team, while others compared it negatively to their previous collaborations and singles. It was frequently compared to Willams' 2013 single "Happy", and Stefani and Williams' 2014 song "Spark the Fire".
Concept and development
"Shine" was written and produced by Pharrell Williams, with additional songwriting from Gwen Stefani. In November 2014, Stefani and Williams announced that they were collaborating on a song for the animated film Paddington. The pair had collaborated previously on the singles: "Hella Good", "Can I Have It Like That", "Hollaback Girl", and "Spark the Fire". They also served as judges on the American reality television singing competition The Voice in 2014. Williams initially pitched "Shine" to Stefani as a song for No Doubt, a band in which Stefani is the lead vocalist. Stefani later commented that she immediately noticed similarities between the demo and her music with No Doubt and played it for the rest of the band to get their reaction. No Doubt recorded their version in late 2014, with Patrick Doyle from Rolling Stone reporting that Stefani was working with the band on a song for the Paddington soundtrack. Despite the announcement, Doyle wrote that: "the song may now be released as a Pharrell/Stefani track".
In an official statement, film executive Bob Weinstein called Stefani and Williams "the perfect artistic duo", saying their work "brought to life the charm that Paddington represents". Stefani said her involvement was motivated by her personal connection to the film's English setting through her marriage to English musician Gavin Rossdale. She said the film and the track allowed her children to "recognize where they come from". Williams considered the song to be: "a wonderful opportunity, as a parent, to contribute to something as classic, authentic and generational to all of our lives, as Paddington Bear "; Stefani said that she was: "honored to join forces with Pharrell and be part of bringing this beloved classic to life for Paddington's next big adventure". Williams called the song "a trailer into a wonderful family experience" and developed its concept from his children's connection with Paddington Bear.
Composition and lyrical interpretation
A 22-second audio sample of the song. The audio sample shows Stefani chanting the hook "Shine", backed by horns, strings, and Williams providing "some inspirational platitudes".
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"Shine" is a reggae pop and ska song that lasts three minutes and twenty-four seconds. It is composed in the key of E minor using common time and a moderately fast tempo of 140 beats per minute. Instrumentation is provided by strings, horns, a guitar, and a piano to create a "crawling beat". March Robisch of Thought Catalog described the song as having "that ska quality that made No Doubt so successful". Digital Spy's Lewis Corner and Amy Davidson wrote that it is a: "ska-flecked romp of pumped-up foghorns and plodding brass". A writer from Capital XTRA described the song as having a "mellow beat" while Rolling Stone's Daniel Sannwald wrote it has a "party-vibe production".
During the track, Stefani's vocal range spans from the low note of D3 to the high note of A4. Williams equated Stefani's tone to that of a "child whisperer" due to her ability to make music that appeals to children. The lyrics are about Paddington Bear and his travels. Rolling Stone called it: "a pop-reggae allegory about a bear with an identity crisis". The song opens with Stefani singing the first verse and Williams joining in the chorus, with lyrics including "When you're trying to get home / When you don't wanna be alone / Look at yourself in the mirror / That's your way home." The hook features Stefani repeatedly singing "Shine!" while Williams screams "Hey!". Andy Morris from Gigwise described the lyrics, "So we're in a strange new land in Paddington station / But you end up in good hands in the fancy British nation" and "that bear with the red hat", as obvious references to Paddington. According to Daniel Sannwald of Rolling Stone, the lyrics include "Pharrell's 'Happy"-ish 'Everybody is the same inside' bridge" that allows the song to appeal to both children and their parents "without sounding overly patronizing". The song ends with Williams singing in the falsetto register.
In an interview with MTV News, Stefani said that she disagreed initially with Williams' approach to the lyrics; while he "was very specific about the lyrics" and wanted to include words directly connected to the film and its character like "bear", "Paddington", "station", Stefani said that she "wanted it to be a little more abstract". She later reversed this view, saying that she agreed with Williams' interpretation of the lyrics after watching the film with her children and seeing the complete animations of the Paddington Bear character. In an interview with American Top 40's Kathleen Perricone, Stefani credited Williams as being central to the song's development, saying that he was: "the one who really got in there and was able to channel the film lyrically and make it really happen". MTV's John Walker questioned whether it could repeat the success of Williams' previous single "Happy" from the 2013 animated film Despicable Me 2.
Promotion and music video
While a low-quality version leaked on December 31, 2014, a full version of the record remains unreleased for consumer consumption. However, a limited quantity edition CD single was issued in January 2015. A minute and thirty-five second video displaying clips from the film was uploaded to The Weinstein Company's YouTube channel on January 13, 2015; it received over two million views in 24 hours. The video featured scenes from the film in which: "the iconic Peruvian bear finds himself in all manner of mishaps while trying to find a home and ultimately working his way into our hearts". It is included on the DVD and Blu-ray releases along with a behind-the-scenes feature on the making of the song. Matthew Jacobson of The Spectrum, a newspaper which is part of the USA Today Network, criticized the video for being "just clips of the movie set to a song" rather than a proper music video. Alternatively, Cinemablend.com's Jessica Rawden found the video to be "satsifying" and a reviewer from Fanlala enjoyed being able to sing along with the lyrics.
"Shine" is featured in the American trailer and the closing credits for Paddington, but was not included in the British version of the film. Idolator's Christina Lee wrote that the track was: "a U.S. and Canada exclusive for Paddington". The song was excluded from the film's soundtrack and Stefani's third studio album This Is What the Truth Feels Like (2016). During an interview with Stefani and Williams on January 21, 2015, radio host Ryan Seacrest erroneously announced the song was available for purchase on the ITunes Store.
"Shine" received mixed reviews from music critics. E! News' Bruna Nessif gave the song a positive review, stating: "When it comes to feel-good music, leave it up to Gwen Stefani and Pharrell to get the job done". A reviewer from Vibe praised it as "the perfect theme song". Abe Dewing, a member of the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, described it as a "sharp, hip tune" in the Boston Herald. He compared its opening trumpet riff to music by British composer Herbert Chappell, who created the theme for the 1975 television series Paddington. Chappell also composed music for the 1986 concerto "Paddington Bear's First Concert", which premiered as a part of the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra Family Concerts. Dewing praised Stefani and Willams' ability: "to compose new music for existing source material intended for children". A reviewer from the website antiMusic described the recording as "even more feel good" than the pair's collaboration on "Spark the Fire". After listening to the leaked version of the song, Aaron Butterfield of the BreatheHeavy website called it: "a catchy tune which feels much more like vintage Stefani than anything we've seen so far this era". Rolling Stone's Daniel Sannwald gave it three and a half stars out of five, praising its "party-vibe production", and favorably comparing its melody to the chorus of Irish rock band The Cranberries's 1994 single "Zombie". Sannwald felt that it would appeal to both children and their parents.
Negative reviews criticized "Shine" for lacking the energy of Williams' and Stefani's previous releases. Kevin Apaza of Direct Lyrics described it as "just average" and said it was worse than "Spark the Fire". In response to the leaked version, Music Times' Carolyn Menyes wrote that it was too slow in comparison to the "crazy, happy beats and earwormmy hand claps" of "Happy" and the "inane catchiness" of Stefani's previous singles "Spark the Fire" and "Baby Don't Lie". Menyes was critical of Stefani's vocals, saying she used "an oddly harsh tone" throughout the song. Steven Pond of TheWrap wrote that Stefani's vocal delivery "never quite crosses the line to catchy".
"Shine" was included in the list of 79 contenders for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, but it did not receive a nomination.
Credits adapted from American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
- ASCAP/Harajuku Lover Music
- Gwen Stefani appears courtesy of Interscope Records
- Pharrell Williams appears courtesy of Columbia Records and i am OTHER Entertainment
- Writers – Gwen Renee Stefani, Pharrell Williams
- Performance – Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams
|United States||January 13, 2015||CD single||The Weinstein Company|
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